Sinisa Botas - Fotolia

The vSphere 6 upgrade guide for busy admins

The vSphere virtualization platform underwent significant renovations in storage and infrastructure management with the 6.0 release. Here's what you need to know.

On February 2, VMware took the wraps of vSphere 6, the first major release of the virtualization platform in three years. Among some of the 650 new features packed into the new offering were advances in storage, changes with infrastructure services, enhancements to Fault Tolerance, and tweaks to vCenter Server Appliance.

Dealing with the day-to-day operations and managing the current infrastructure often means there's little time for a sysadmin to dig into the details of the key enhancements and important changes that could affect your vSphere 6 upgrade plans. If you're new to the world of VMware virtualization, this vSphere guide can help clarify some of the major changes and updated requirements to ensure your IT shop isn't caught unawares when it's time to move to this version.

How to get the most out of VMware vSphere 6 -- VMware has introduced enhancements for vMotion, some of which had been in technical preview for several years. For enterprises that needed the added flexibility to vMotion across vCenters and to push VMs beyond the borders of their data centers to another remote facility, VMware added long-distance vMotion and cross-vCenter vMotion. The book Mastering VMware vSphere 6 dives into these changes and explains many of the nuances that will be of interest to VMware administrators.

Higher requirements could affect lab plans -- The minimum hardware requirements have changed in vSphere 6, meaning to access the latest and the greatest features in this release may mean an update to the computer lab will be needed. The hungriest change in this release is the Windows version of vCenter, which once could be installed on just about any server, now requires two vCPUs and 8 GB of RAM.

Updated vCenter Server Appliance fuels speculation -- VMware raised the bar so the Linux appliance of vCenter now matches the maximums of the Windows version. But there are a few considerations to ponder before you decide to switch how your vCenter operates.

Working with the updated vSphere Web Client -- The client that VMware has been steering administrators to use is still based on Flash. The layout and functionality has been retooled for speed improvements, but are the tweaks enough to retire the desktop client?

How VVOLs changes storage management -- VMware has changed how VMs can be provisioned and managed using the VVOLs policy-based feature in vSphere 6. There are some growing pains with this new technology but VVOLs aims to reduce much of the manual fiddling that has been required to start and maintain workloads.

Check out the fine print with VVOLs -- The perk of VVOLs is the VM is automatically assigned to the tier of storage that can provide the required performance. But as with any feature that hasn't fully matured, there are some limitations to deliberate that could sway your decision before you implement this function in your environment.

Platform Services Controller changes how SSO operates -- VMware made significant renovations to identity management and other infrastructures services in vCenter Server to avoid problems that have plagued earlier versions. The size of your environment will dictate the deployment model you should use.

Next Steps

More than 650 new features coming in vSphere 6

VSAN 6 to be released with vSphere 6

How prepared are you for vSphere 6?

Dig Deeper on vMotion and Storage vMotion